Agenda for Excellence 1995-2000



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No. 32, SUPPLEMENT: Agenda for Excellence 1995-2000 (~ 375 k; 32 pages)

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The University will effectively communicate to its various constituencies the ways in which it contributes to the advancement of society.

Effective institutional communication, both internal and external, for a university as large and decentralized as Penn is a constant responsibility and challenge. Not only is there always a plethora of "news" about research discoveries, institutional developments and campus events, there is often the obligation to manage one or more "crises", as well, that threaten to distract time and attention. At the same time, the means or vehicles of communication have expanded as the world wide web and other information technologies have continued to evolve. This has created many new opportunities - and also new questions about how best to "reach" people.

In the past five years, the University has successfully communicated its most important messages. The evidence of this success lies in the preceding pages of this report that chronicle Penn's rise in national rankings, increased admissions selectivity, growth in research funding, public sector impact and development expansion.

Illustrative media placements


February: 50th anniversary celebration of ENIAC with Vice President Al Gore resulted in feature coverage in the New York Times, "Good Morning America," Associated Press, and Reuters;

December: "NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw" aired a feature piece profiling Dr. Rodin as one of the most influential women in America.


September: the New York Times featured the work of Richard Estes, School of Social Work, ranking social progress of 160 nations;

November: Dr. Rodin's address to the AAMC on the qualities of leadership was reported in the Washington Post;

December: New York Times reported on the $100 million donation from Leonard and Madlyn Abramson for cancer research.


April: Psychology Professor Martin Seligman profiled in the New York Times;

December: New York Times feature story on Professor of Telecommunications David Farber.


July: New York Times story on e-seminars at Penn;

July: USA Today feature on domestic violence focusing on research presented at Penn School of Social Work conference;

August: Sociology professor Elijah Anderson interviewed in Newsweek magazine on research from his book Code of the Streets;

November: USA Today features Linda Aiken, of the School of Nursing, on the effects of the burgeoning nursing shortage.

December: Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, and AP reported on research published by Penn team in Nature magazine on King Midas' funeral feast.


January: Professor Richard Gelles, School of Social Work, in the "CBS Evening News" commenting on the continuing custody battle over Elian Gonzalez;

February: President Clinton's visit for Penn's Granoff forum resulted in feature coverage in numerous outlets, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, AP, "ABC World News This Morning," and C-Span;

April: Professor Lawrence Sherman, Fels Center, was the sole guest on a "Nightline" discussion of school violence;

October: Chemistry Professor Alan MacDiarmid's Nobel Prize resulted in feature coverage in dozens of outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, "Newshour with Jim Lehrer" and Associated Press.

November: BusinessWeek magazine features Interim Dean Neville Strumpf on how children of aging parents can best make decisions regarding their care;

November: The New York Times features an article by former Dean Claire Fagin on the changing roles of nurses in society.

December: Dr. Rodin's op-ed on university/community revitalization published in the New York Times; Newsweek magazine features.


Innovations by Office of University Relations

  • The Pennsylvania Current, a new bi-weekly campus tabloid covering news and features of interest to students, faculty and staff. The Current has won two gold medal awards for Excellence from the Council for the Advancement of Secondary Education (CASE).
  • A local and national communications strategy for the five component parts of the West Philadelphia Initiative.
  • A new website, "Our Commitment to West Philadelphia," highlighting the five component parts of Penn's neighborhood revitalization efforts.
  • An ongoing program to encourage members of the faculty and others to write opinion pieces for submission to high-circulation publications in major markets. Opinions were published in more than three dozen prominent newspapers throughout the country.
  • A program for meshing faculty expertise against breaking news stories by creating "One Stop Shopping Lists." These lists offer a selection of Penn faculty available to comment on various aspects of a breaking news story, and have resulted not only in an increase in faculty placements (2 dozen in national newspapers in 1999; a similar number in 2000), but an increase in reporters from around the nation and overseas calling Penn for experts. Recent examples include:
    • March 21, 2001 NPR's Setsuko Sato interviewed Law Professor Stephen Burbank to discuss the Bush administrations plan to end the role of the American Bar Association in selecting federal judges.
    • March 15, 2001 Donna Harrington Luecker of USA Today quoted Jeanne Vissa, director of teacher education in the Graduate School of Education, in story "Middle Schools Fail to Make the Grade."
    • March 13, 2001 Peter Kuriloff, professor in the Graduate School of Education, was the primary source quoted in Christian Science Monitor story, "When Special Education Discriminates."
  • Joe Turow, Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication, was primary source in Gary Levin's USA Today's March 7 piece, "Just How Real is Reality TV?"
  • Ram Cnaan, co-director of Penn's Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society, provided background for David Reilly's Philadelphia Inquirer article on, Feb. 22, 2001, "Faith-Based Plan Raises Questions About Volunteers."
  • Increased media coverage of developments in the sciences at Penn through the recruitment of an experienced science writer/editor, and the use of new media outreach tools, such as Eurekalert, a science and technology web posting mechanism under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Crisis Communications

Universities are prone to experience "crises" of varying kinds given their size, research mission, locations, prominence and other factors. Penn is no exception. Since 1995 the University has had to manage crises connected to crime, safety and security; UPHS financial troubles; gene therapy; and a range of other issues. To deal with such matters in an expeditious and effective way, President Rodin appointed in 1997 a crisis committee of top University officers including the Provost, Executive Vice President, General Counsel, Vice President and Chief of Staff, Vice President for Public Safety, and Director of University Relations. On more than one occasion this committee has convened to analyze, manage and communicate about a crisis to Penn constituencies.

Alumni Outreach

  • Alumni Relations' strategic planning process developed an encompassing vision and model for building the University's strong, positive relationship with its alumni. Particular attention focused on development of alumni leadership groups, such as Agenda for Excellence Council, Trustees' Council of Penn Women, James Brister Society, and young alumni affinity groups.
  • Regional Advisory Boards have assisted in development of "Penn on the Road" program to showcase Agenda priorities. POTR programs have been offered in seven cities; four more cities scheduled for programs during FY01.
  • PennCares was developed to increase alumni engagement in community service projects through regional alumni clubs; 20 clubs have participated in annual PennCares events, and specific classes now participating in Penn Cares as part of planned reunion activities.

Global Alumni Network (GAN) was created to update and reorganize domestic and international alumni club structure.

  • GAN offers programming for alumni who live in areas not served by clubs, and for alumni who choose not to affiliate with local clubs.
  • GAN's "Partners With Penn" program, introduced in 1999, provides regional alumni clubs an outline of Penn's strategic goals and priorities, and incentives for helping to achieve goals for Penn.


Communications program:

  • PENNews transformed from a freestanding, semiannual publication to an insert in the Pennsylvania Gazette three times per year.
  • Increased readership from approximately 30,000 to more than 140,000.
  • Pennsylvania Gazette has focused more than 30 articles on the Agenda and/or the six academic priorities, including academic programs, physical environment, and student living/learning experience.
  • The Essential Alumni Guide: comprehensive annual directory of alumni resources across the University; 1st edition published September 2000 as a supplement to the Gazette.
  • People Supporting Penn: annual donor recognition publication placing increased emphasis on gift impact.
  • The Benjamin Franklin Society: new identity and improved marketing materials for undergraduate annual giving and reunion class giving in conjunction with raised minimum giving standards.
  • Penn Medicine --The School of Medicine's primary vehicle for reaching its key audience of alumni and friends. The magazine is devoted to news, features, and commentary on faculty research, alumni achievements, and trends in the health care.
  • - Penn's Center for Bioethics comprehensive web site that furnishes information and news on the Center, while linking to news articles, commentary, research, and information worldwide. Billed as the Internet's first and largest web site of its kind, is the most heavily visited bioethics site on the Internet (according to Medical Matrix).
  • OncoLink -- SOM also publishes, an online provider of free cancer-related information that has received awards and praise for providing cancer patients and their families with valuable and often empowering knowledge.
  • Knowledge@Wharton --The Wharton School's free business and research online business publication.
  • The Wharton Alumni Magazine, which is now published on-line, reaches 70,000 Wharton graduates worldwide.
  • The Leonard Davis Institute of Health and Economics published reports that make its health policy research and education activities more accessible to students, policy makers, and industry leaders.

Electronic communications have expanded dramatically as planned for in the Agenda for Excellence.

  • Gazette website provides convenient, immediate source of information for alumni worldwide.
  • Development and expansion of the Alumni Web as part of Penn's Internet presence has included the creation of websites for international clubs and reunion classes.
  • Alumni On-line Community and e-mail forwarding.
  • New websites for fundraising priorities.


PRINT this document

No. 32, SUPPLEMENT: Agenda for Excellence 1995-2000 (~ 375 k; 32 pages)

Note: To read Acrobat® files, download the Adobe® Acrobat® Reader for free!

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 32, May 1, 2001